Cardinals vs Broncos Week 15 Picks and Predictions: Two-Way Offensive Ineptitude

The Cardinals and Broncos have been two of the NFL's biggest duds this season, and their Week 15 clash should only produce more boredom for fans and bettors alike. Find out more in our NFL picks.

Last Updated: Dec 18, 2022 8:36 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Colt McCoy NFL
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Two of the most disappointing teams of this NFL season will collide on Sunday afternoon when the Arizona Cardinals travel north to face the Denver Broncos.

The Cardinals have lost five of their last six to sit at 4-9 on the season, and are without their starting quarterback for the rest of the year. The Broncos have lost nine of 10 and now sit at an abysmal 3-10 after their 2-1 start to the season. Which disappointing team will come out with a nice consolation prize?

Find out in our free NFL picks and predictions for the Cardinals vs. Broncos on Sunday, December 18. 

Cardinals vs Broncos best odds

Cardinals vs Broncos picks and predictions

Both teams have failed to meet expectations this season, but for very different reasons. The Cardinals rank dead last in points per game allowed at 26.8, while the Broncos are last in the NFL in points scored per game at 14.9. This is especially troubling for Denver, given it traded the farm for Russell Wilson and brought in an offensive-minded head coach in Nathaniel Hackett. 

As if things weren’t bad enough for these two teams, both their starting quarterbacks were downed to injuries. The Cardinals lost Kyler Murray for the remainder of the season to a torn ACL on Monday night against the Patriots in a loss. Denver lost Wilson to a concussion in their loss to the Chiefs last Sunday. 

However, Wilson may be able to go in this game, as he returned to practice in a limited fashion, although he is still in the concussion protocol as of Thursday. If he is unable to suit up, Brett Rypien will take over. While Colt McCoy vs. Rypien may not be an exciting matchup, it can lead to some good betting opportunities. 

The Broncos defense has justified the hype going into this season, despite having to be on the field for a majority of plays. They rank fourth in the NFL at 18.3 points per game allowed and seventh with 314.3 total yards allowed per contest. Denver has also forced 16 turnovers to only 19 touchdowns allowed. Only the Houston Texans have allowed fewer passing touchdowns this year.

This will be McCoy’s third start of the season and his fourth game with significant action. In those three previous games, the Cardinals have only averaged 16.7 points per game. It’s not going to be any easier against this Denver defense for McCoy. The Cards will need to rely more on James Connor to get the run game going, but the Broncos have held their opponent under 100 rushing yards in six of their 13 games. 

Even though the Cardinals defense has been bad, the Denver offense has been even worse. The Broncos will keep the Cardinals out of the end zone and this game could be very ugly to watch. That means you must go hard on the Under here regardless of how low this total gets. 

My best bet: Under 37.5 (-110 WynnBET)

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Cardinals vs Broncos spread analysis

The way to attack the Cardinals defense is through the air. They allow 243.8 passing yards per game and have surrendered 24 passing touchdowns with only eight interceptions. The problem for Denver is that they have been unable to attack anyone through the air. 

Even a healthy Wilson is only averaging 233.8 passing yards per game this season. Rypien is only averaging 4.5 yards per attempt with 54 attempts on the year. They have combined for only 12 touchdowns through the air to eight interceptions thrown. All of this with some great receiving options around them. 

Kliff Kingsbury has been dreadful late in the season since taking over the Arizona job in 2019. The Cardinals are 10-25 straight up and 13-22 against the spread in Week 8 or later of the season in that period. Arizona has failed to cover four consecutive games in the month of December.

Meanwhile, Denver has covered five of the last seven home games against a team with a losing road record. This game is going to be ugly and low-scoring, so I don’t love the spread one way or the other. However, I do like Denver to win at home, and if it stays at a field goal or below, then the Broncos are a good bet. 

Cardinals vs Broncos Over/Under analysis

We talked about how the Cardinals are going to struggle against this great Denver defense, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park for the Broncos on offense either. The Cardinals only allow 110.2 rushing yards per game, which ranks seventh in the NFL. No team has reached the 175-yard mark on the ground against them. 

Denver has been relying on its run game to get the offense moving and to allow its defense to take some breathers. However, with Russ in concussion protocol and only the likes of Latavius Murray and Marlon Mack in the backfield, don’t expect a heavy run offense on Sunday. This game will likely see a lot of punts and field goals. 

The Under has hit in 11 of the 13 games played by the Broncos this season. It has also hit in four consecutive Denver games against teams with a losing record. Neither of these teams will score more than two touchdowns and unless some huge mistakes lead to quick points, this game may not even reach 24 total points. 

Cardinals vs Broncos betting trend to know

The Under is 5-2 in the Broncos’ last seven games in December. Find more NFL betting trends for Cardinals vs. Broncos.

Cardinals vs Broncos game info

Location: Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
Date: Sunday, December 18, 2022
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET
Opening odds: Broncos -1, 39

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